ALL the newly promoted clubs certainly added to a memorable opening weekend in the Bon Secours county football championships across all four grades.
Éire Óg, Knocknagree, Rockchapel, and Iveleary carried their 2020 county winning form into higher standard competitions by posting round 1 victories in the group phase.
Yet, there was no escaping the stand-out result — Valley Rovers’ stunning one-point success against Nemo Rangers in premier senior Group 1.
But, before anyone loses the run of themselves and starts looking at possible new Andy Scannell Cup winners this season, one fact still looms large, Nemo remain the team to beat.
Granted, they’re involved in must-win games now against Carrigaline and Douglas, but few expect them to trip up again and not be involved in the knock-out phase.
Having to play only six days after overcoming Castlehaven in the delayed 2020 final was always going to be a big ask and full of risk.
Credit Valleys, though, who could consider themselves one of the unlucky sides last season, but have now taken a giant step towards qualification once more from their section.
Éire Óg took full advantage of Carbery Rangers’ injury and suspension woes to record an historic first win in the top tier, a six-point triumph the perfect start in a very competitive group involving the Haven and Newcestown.
Next up are the Haven while Ross take on Newcestown in a battle of the first round losers with much at stake.
John Hayes will return and his experience and class is sure to help a young side.
Goals certainly weren’t in short supply in the two games in Group C where St Finbarr’s edged Ballincollig in a thriller which produced three, the same number that Clonakilty chalked up against Ilen Rovers.
Cillian Myers-Murray’s quick-fire pair was matched by Dara O’Shea for Clonakilty with Ross Mannix contributing the other.
“Scoring the two goals was encouraging and we probably missed two or three more,” said Barrs manager Paul O’Keeffe after his side’s one-point triumph, having been 13 clear after 35 minutes.
“We always seem to create chances, but our conversion rate could be better though it’s going to click for us someday.
“There are positives there because I thought we played some very good football for 40 minutes.”
Clon impressed with their tactic of varying between the short game and the longer ball into Ross Mannix, Jack O’Mahony, and Conor Daly inside.
Kerryman Dara Ó Sé, a Garda based in the west Cork town, scored 2-5, including a goal from a penalty in the 50th minute following a foul on Joe Grimes to make it 3-9 to 0-9.
“He is an ace and sure Dara’s a Clon man now, but we will have to drive on again the next day because I understand the Barrs-Ballincollig game was a ferocious match,” said selector Eoin Ryan.
“They are the two strongest teams in the group and last year proved that.
“We had to win this one and match either of them, but we’ll just have to wait and see.”
It’s the Barrs and Ilen and Ballincollig and Clon on the 25th when the group’s shape should be a lot more defined.
The second season of the one-minute water-break in either half continues to divide opinion.
Referees have between minutes 15-20 to order a halt in proceedings, usually when the ball goes out of play.
It certainly impacts games because the break might suit one team, but not the other, particularly in momentum.
“I like them,” said O’Keeffe. “When the game is going for 30 it could be over and untold damage done.
“It gives you an opportunity to tweak things a small bit and while I like them, they’re not everybody’s cup of tea.”
Group A R1: Nemo Rangers 0-11 Valley Rovers 1-9; Douglas 1-15 Carrigaline 0-9.
Group B R1: Carbery Rangers 1-9 Éire Óg 1-15; Castlehaven 2-12 Newcestown 1-10.
Group C R1: St Finbarr’s 1-17 Ballincollig 2-15; Clonakilty 3-10 Ilen Rovers 0-11.
Group A R2: Nemo Rangers v Carrigaline, Páirc Uí Rinn, 5.30pm; Valley Rovers v Douglas, Carrigaline, 2pm.
Group B R2: Castlehaven v Éire Óg, Enniskeane 2pm.
Group C R2: St Finbarr’s v Ilen Rovers, Ballinascarthy, 4pm; Ballincollig v Clonakilty, Newcestown, 5.30pm.
Group B R2: Newcestown v Carbery Rangers, Clonakilty, 2pm.